Thursday, April 27, 2017

My Mistake


I just spent an hour writing my post on the second part of trip and out meet-up with Mage in San Diego and posted it on my "other" blog. I am not going to try and cut and past that baby back to here as I have spent too much time at the computer.  So...you are going to have to go read it THERE.  Please.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Pennies Found

Like a bad penny or a fond memory, I am back. I have had a very full two weeks. I have not even had time to read a single blog post from all of you until a few days ago. Today I have a short reprieve and can post. My student had to work and cancelled her class. I should be weeding the garden on this cool and misty day. I have a house that really needs cleaning and at least two laundry loads to do. 

But instead, I will blog about my trip.  California was beautiful.  We stayed at a resort near the Crystal Cove State Park and did get to glimpse the spring flowers and the ocean on the first few days.




The grandchildren loved the beach but the Pacific is usually wet suit temperatures, so they did not swim. It was also a bit "surfy" and they scared the you-know-what out of me while their Dad explained that raising children meant you let them take risks.  Fortunately we only spent a short time here as there were many other activities on the agenda.







Even the heated pool at the resort required some baring it all in the cooler winds to enjoy.  The mist in the mornings off of the Pacific was lovely, but cooler than expected.  Yes, it was a "fancy" place.



Hubby had visited Knotts Berry Farm when he was about seven years old, decades ago, and wanted to revisit with his grands.  It had that old fashioned charm of an amusement park without all the dazzle, except for a wild ride or two, and while my grandchildren are really spoiled with fancy vacations, they were not so jaded that they could not enjoy the place.




Two of the grands panned for gold as hubby had done so many years ago and came away with a small jar of gold flecks (salted by the miner, of course.)
 



The youngest got into the spirit of the place at the gift shop.  The next day we toured Los Angeles Staple Center with all its bronze statues, saw the original Capitol Records building, Jimmy Kimmel's studio in Hollywood (door), walked on the "stars" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, tested the hand prints that many stars placed at the Chinese Theater, and did a drive by of the homes in Beverly Hills.  I will not bore you with the hundred or so photos.  I had never done this type of tour, but my son-in-law was over the top with excitement, and my daughter was thrilled to see her favorite comedian's, Lucille Ball, former home.

We also spent an afternoon touring La Jolla beach and ate at a nice restaurant overlooking the beach.  I may share the lovely late afternoon photos later.

We spent five days here and then had to leave the resort as they could not accommodate us for the full week, but we got to go to the "real" San Diego and meet up with Mage and her husband for an outdoor lunch!  That in the next post.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Odds Are


One could wonder why I would ever want to leave this place and its beauty. but I have a lovey family and they demand time!  I will be gone in the coming weeks to take a trip with the grand-children and their parents.  San Diego for fun in the sun and then back though Denver to visit my relatives.  I hope to meet up with Mage on one of the days.

  
When I return I may bore you with photos or maybe not.  We will see.  I may have time to read blogs, so that is good.





Thursday, March 30, 2017

My Telenovela Season

There is a reason that one's instinct should be honed.  It is a tool that we often ignore in this chaotic world of multiple stimuli.   When something lingers in the back of your mind, you should invite it on in and offer it some coffee and pick its mind.  Then you can make a pro and con list before you do something or decide something.

But what if you have conflicting instincts?

I do have two conflicting instincts.  One tells me to hibernate  at home with my forest and my birds and my garden and stay safe.  These activities rarely disappoint.  They often reward.  The other instinct tells me that hibernation means the mind and spirit will become sterile and stale and may just eventually die.  Therefore, I am routinely battling with these two noises in my brain.

I fought the instinct to just veg because I do that a LOT of time in my retirement days.  I read, I cook experimentally, I play with photography, I garden, I watch TV, I download courses on my laptop, I blog, all of which allows me to remain in my cave and face challenges at a snail's pace.

Master Gardening activities do force me to go to meetings, participate in events and work on projects with others.  My family is just near enough that I am called upon to babysit or share an activity with grandchildren who will, all too  soon, be young adults themselves.  I force myself to offer dinner to friends a few times a year.  It  is work and I  get nervous (odd at my age), but it always ends up being time well spent.

My instinct told me that volunteering with the Adult Basic Education office would be both a challenge and a reward.  The reward has been in inspiring people to bring their best to the table.  Another reward has been re-learning all that I forgot!  The challenge has been  in taking the time to prepare lessons and work through the clunky library computer software to schedule a study room and then to find this was all for naught as my students, who have their own challenging adult lives, cancel on the day of the lesson.

I am  currently working with a woman from Peru who has passed her high school equivalency but still  finds everyday English an effort.  She wants to go to community college, but her lack of command of English would hold her back.   She also is still saving money for this from her  full-time job.  One recent afternoon we met for a lesson after she had cancelled the prior week.  She  had said that her husband had  a "cholesterol emergency."  She had to  take him to the hospital.

Once we had settled in and spread out our work, I asked her how her husband  was.  Her face fell and she said he was just fine and back home.  She  looked very tired and claimed she was fighting a cold. I opened the vocabulary book and looked at our lesson and asked her the first question.  She fumbled a bit and when I looked up her face had collapsed into pure  misery as she tried to hide her weeping.  Suddenly the lesson was forgotten as I reached out to hug her and asked what was wrong.

I never expected the "Telanovela" episodes she was going to bring forth.  It seems that along with PTSD her husband has a cholesterol problem, yes, but more significantly he has a serious drinking problem and that is what brought him to the hospital.  He  tells his therapist that he is going to quit drinking and like many with addictions goes home and starts drinking, and as many know, the turn away from alcoholism has to really begin with  the alcoholic.  When in the Navy he was very physically fit,  but now a knee injury and an arm injury have left him far less able to be as active as he would like.  He is retired but did some work with a construction company and had a falling out with the boss.  I am sure he sees his life as useless.  He  has lots of excuses.

Well, this is only one of  the issues as her concern for his drinking has made him violent and threatening  to her.  She grew up in an abusive home watching her father abuse her mother, and perhaps without knowing it, she has returned to something familiar here, and she is frightened. 

Then there is the Telanovela episode of her not being able to stay in  the  country if she divorces him.  She is about nine months and $1000.00 away from getting permanent residency and the immigration officials are already suspicious that her marriage was one of convenience and not love, and perhaps it was.  
When one is living in a country filled with crime and poverty and daily dangers an inroad to that golden America is hard to pass up.

If you do not think this story could get any more complicated, she is living  with him and his ex-wife!  According to my student the ex-wife is very kind  to her and helpful...to the point of buying her a car for her to get to work.  The ex-wife still works full time at a good paying job for Navy intelligence but has severe arthritis problems and is looking forward to her own retirement.  The ex-wife is still on the husband's retirement pension.  I know,  it is all very strange.

I am  certain that a psychotherapist could complete a research paper on all three of these people.  I, on the other had, could only recommend  she walk on eggs for now, call an abuse hotline and make an appointment with a legal aid lawyer.   (I  did offer to pay a legal aid fee, if there was one.)  I was terrified for her but knew I was in no position to really give advice and knew all these problems were taking their toll on her.  For me it was a dangerous and tragic story, and I was not naive enough to think I had the whole story.  For her it was her daily life.  She works in retail and  it reminded me to be  ever so nice to  those workers as we have no idea what their daily life may be like.

Well, if that does not inspire your week and encourage you to listen to your instincts, I do not know what will.

Monday, March 27, 2017

This is Political, So You Can Move On


I have been paralyzed by politics. I have been a "snowflake" being held over a candle. The fact that the far right held their ground and stopped millions (more) from losing health care has given me hope.  I have tried really hard to understand those who voted for a man whose speeches sound like an angry grade school bully.  He has claimed he graduated at the top of his class, but this is certainly not reflected in any of his rhetoric or his endless golf.  He has no favorite books, interesting American history quotes, or rich pals that are intellectual businessmen.  He has no detailed vision of how to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.   He has no plan of how to spend the increase in budget for the Defense Department which even the Generals agree they do not want now.


He claims he is a good businessman, but my broker (whom I just called to adjust my investments to make them less risky as this market adjusts) just told me that according to their experts (this is one of the largest brokerage firms in the country) he did worse than possible based on his investment and all his bailouts from his dad over the last two/three decades.  If he had taken that money and just invested it, he would be worth far more than even he could imagine.  But he did not beat the market in 3 decades with the money he was given!

But just being wealthy would not give him the endless visibility he demands.  Watch almost any popular New York TV show and he was walk-on over the years.  He finally had to create his own shows.  He demands attention.  

He is not a Republican or a Democrat and I keep thinking this is some wry God's humor as he will use this President to bring both parties together on at least a few functional bits of legislation.  Far stranger things have happened this year.

Imagine a Congress that actually meets, compromises, and SLOWLY get stuff done!!
 

OK.  No more political rants.  Next post is about my Peruvian English student...not necessarily much happier though.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Keeping My Fingers Crossed

My daughter is an amazing woman. I wish I would have been more like her when I was a young working mother. She has a very demanding job with a consulting industry, works with some good people, is active with a women's legal organization, and also has to deal with some male chauvinist pigs in the company. Yet she has managed to hold her own while raising three children and running the household activities. This past week she came down with the flu on Monday after nursing her oldest who had contracted the flu the prior week.

She rarely calls us for help but she had to as she had scheduled a last minute fly-out to Chicago for just the day (an important luncheon with a group where one of the leaders, a cyber security expert, wanted her there for various reasons)  She also felt the meeting was important for her career.  Due to snow delays the week before, a repairman and a furniture deliveryman were scheduled for the day she was to fly out. We were happy to head up and house-sit since we had planned on driving up that weekend anyway for a Smithsonian lecture.


She made us an amazing Thai shrimp dinner the night before she caught her plane.



As luck would have it, the youngest son came down with the flu the afternoon before she left, so we did nurse duty, took him to the doctor's, and completed our house-sit duty for the next two days.  He seemed to weather the illness as children sometimes do.  Periods of rest...



 followed by creating a magic show for his granddad.


Hubby had been nursing a mild sore throat the day before we went up, so he was a bit compromised already.   Here we are four and a half days later, and back at home, and neither of us has gotten sick! We did get our flu shots this fall, but were told that they are only 50% effective this year.  Maybe we dodged the bullet?  I am still keeping my fingers crossed.

Daughter did not cancel the dog-walker which was good as I had not brought snow boots and the sidewalks were pretty slushy.  (Yes, some people call this a dog...).


I do not know how young parents juggled all that comes their way and I try not to think about it.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Fling Back

I have been thinking and thinking and trying to be nicer and more polite, but I am still in warrior mode.  I just cannot seem to find a safe place to put down the armor so....I will link to this post long ago and hope it gives you strength, as it did me when I re-read it.